Publication Details

Category Text Publication
Reference Category Reports
Title (Primary) Implementation of flexible bioenergy in different countries : Status quo of implementation, barriers and policy framework
Author Thrän, D.; Lange, N.; Mäki, E.; Saastamoinen, H.; Schleker, T.
Year 2024
Language englisch
Topic T5 Future Landscapes
Abstract In energy systems with dramatically increasing share of variable energy sources (VRE) like solar and wind, bioenergy has an increasingly important role to play, particularly in fields where alternative renewable energy sources are difficult or costly to provide. Climate-efficient and cost-effective flexibility of bioenergy is key, for example when providing flexible electricity, and also in different energy system services such as biofuels provision, renewable heat implementation as well as carbon capture and utilization options and the reduction of grid operation costs.
However, to unlock the enormous potential of flexible bioenergy’s contribution to the transformation of the energy system, favorable policy conditions are necessary (as they are for the whole energy system transformation). With this report on the implementation of flexible bioenergy in different countries we analyse the developments in flexible bioenergy implementation in 14 countries (counting the European Union as a country) over the last three years.
The report is mainly based on questionnaires answered by bioenergy experts in the countries, who were contacted through the IEA bioenergy network. Even though all surveyed countries are OECD members, the status, policy framework and examples are heterogeneous and assign different priorities to short-term flexible bioenergy and multiproduct systems and longer-term flexibility services as well.
Flexible bioenergy is considered in many different fields of application and differently prioritised between countries. The highest importance is seen in using flexible feedstocks and providing flexible power: Day-to-day and seasonal flexibility are stated as the most important for system integration. Also, flexibility in resource supply is well established: Storage and international trade of bioenergy carriers contribute predominantly to longer periods to meet winter demand. When it comes to flexible production of hydrogen or CO2, as well as poly-generation of energy and non-energy products, more countries see the need to better consider these topics in the debate and in parallel state them as topics for research and demonstration. Between those early stage concepts, flexible bioenergy and BECCS can be seen as an emerging topic, as it is considered in many energy strategies.
Due to rising share of variable renewable energy (VRES), flexibility in the power sector is of increasing relevance. Flexibility issues in the power provision field have entered the agenda during the last three years. Almost all of the investigated countries are expecting to invest or are already investing in flexibility. Statistics on and monitoring of flexible bioenergy are also of increasing interest. However, there are still very different approaches in describing flexible capacities between the countries, so that a clear definition and procedure could improve the comparability of the numbers. Advanced technologies to ensure reliability are expected in more than half of the investigated countries until 2030. In many countries different flexibility options are currently in implementation, mainly driven by research and development and pilot and demonstration plants, but also already in the market in some cases. The comparison of the different renewable flexibility options shows that, across the countries, an innovation and implementation pipeline for flexible power generation is visible. However, this is more prominent for hydrogen and hydropower than for biogas and solid biofuels.
Increasing efforts for flexible bioenergy production and/or the simultaneous production of electricity, heat, and fuels in the past three years are stated with adoption of strategies, investment support and also adjustment of energy legislation. Many of these efforts are linked to BECCU and BECCS, which have entered the policy field in almost all of the investigated countries. Concerning flexible power provision, countries largely differ in their focus and approach, e.g. emphasizing day-to-day flexibility or seasonal flexibility, poly-generation, combination with excess energy, hydrogen and/or power-to-X. Moreover, efforts mainly are in a research, development and pilot stage; implementation support for those flexibility options is rare.Increasing interest is also stated for feedstock flexibility, including varying biomass sources (and more residues and waste), as well as storage and trade options. These options have gained larger attention during the last three years in most of the countries, and implementation is ongoing.
Many support mechanisms for the implementation of renewable energy production are stated, where most of them only support flexible bioenergy and system integration indirectly. Direct policy support is stated from Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey. Those mechanisms support the creation of flexible bioenergy capacities on biogas plants (in Germany), feed in tariffs and premiums for flexible bioenergy (Austria and Denmark) or focus Capex and Opex contribution to biobased CHPs (Switzerland). However, the effect of those mechanisms also depends on the level of support. This is why indirect mechanisms, i.e. carbon pricing or emission trading, are not necessarily second-best options.
To accelerate flexible bioenergy, insufficient policy instruments and market mechanisms are seen as main barriers in almost all investigated countries. Only in the United States of America, technical barriers are seen as a bigger issue and in the Netherlands, acceptance issues are dominant. Competition with other flexibility options is of increasing importance. However infrastructural aspects are not stated as a barrier, which might distinguish flexible bioenergy from other options of system integration and can be clearly concluded as an advantage in short-term implementation.
This report is part one of our analysis. The report on expectations of flexible bioenergy in different countries will follow, as well as a summarizing synthesis report as part 3.
Persistent UFZ Identifier
Thrän, D., Lange, N., Mäki, E., Saastamoinen, H., Schleker, T. (2024):
Implementation of flexible bioenergy in different countries : Status quo of implementation, barriers and policy framework
IEA Bioenergy,